Americans are no longer going to fight for democracy. Time has shown: interventions and overthrowing authoritarian leaders are ineffective. Washington has learned its lessons and plans to change the world, starting with itself. RIA Novosti has looked at how the United States now intends to act.
New Times – New Ways.
Although it took place in an empty hall, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s first official speech at the State Department created a stir. In half an hour, the head of the US diplomacy listed the main directions of the foreign policy which would soon be set in the national security strategy.
Almost everything Blinken said is not new: both he and President Joe Biden have said so many times in the last months. Still, something caught the eye.
“Our approach will change,” the secretary of state announced. – “We will not promote democracy through costly military interventions or attempts to overthrow authoritarian regimes by force. Such methods, though well-meaning, have done little good, he acknowledged. Moreover, the words “democracy promotion” have taken on a negative connotation, and even Americans themselves no longer believe in them.
The world has changed, and under the new conditions, Washington will switch its attention from the threat of terrorism to the fight against rival powers. Promoting democracy – still an imperative of U.S. foreign policy – requires leading by example. “Otherwise, we play along with competitors like China and Russia, who take every opportunity to sow doubt about our commitment to ideals. We shouldn’t make it easy for them,” the diplomat concluded.
A case in point
Last year brought challenges for the country. The coronavirus pandemic, which buried more Americans than the First, Second, and Vietnam wars combined, highlighted health disparities. The race riots over police brutality and the killing of blacks once again highlighted the problem of systemic racism in society.
The presidential election was the most scandalous in decades. Donald Trump is still claiming that the results were rigged. This led to a veritable assault on fundamental values: on January sixth, a mob stormed the Capitol building during the confirmation of the electoral vote.
The new president, Joe Biden, was faced with the urgent need to restore unity within the country, to prove first and foremost to Americans themselves that the United States is still a beacon of democracy.
Protesters at the rally of supporters of the incumbent U.S. president
Protesters for incumbent Donald Trump in front of Congress in Washington, D.C.
“There’s a big problem with personal example in the States right now,” says Pavel Koshkin, a senior fellow at the U.S. and Canada Institute, in a conversation with us. – They need a rhetorical tool to mobilize the electorate. It is important to show that we are capable of handling the situation in the country.
To some extent, according to Koshkin, Blinken’s statements can be considered to be directed internally. “Bringing order to other states is a kind of incentive: you have to start with yourself,” he explains.
The Biden administration has repeatedly emphasized that China and its model of development is Russia’s chief strategic rival. It is this model that Washington is striving to change.
Beijing itself has no plans to export its political system anywhere, as Chinese President Xi Jinping has said. “We will promote opportunities for peace through development,” he explained.
There is indeed a request in some countries to import individual elements of the Chinese government, says a consultant to the Moscow Center
“All autocracies in the region want to replicate China’s success: to become a developed economy without democratic reforms,” Umarov notes. At the same time, any autocracy in the modern world is forced to appear as a democracy. Without it, it is impossible to exist normally in the global world.
“Therefore, at the level of rhetoric, everyone in Central Asia talks about reforms and human rights, but in fact, they do not see the West as a model to follow. If earlier at least one country – Kyrgyzstan, the so-called oasis of democracy in Central Asia – was more pro-American, now even it has changed its mind and follows a different path,” the expert explains.
kineticist, a consultant at Carnegie Moscow Center
The United States could strengthen its position in the region if it more actively engages Central Asia economically, as Beijing does. Without this, Umarov believes, there is little ideological influence to gain.
Unforgotten old stuff
The approach of the new administration is a continuation of the one begun by Barack Obama. The so-called Obama Doctrine also implied a reduction of the U.S. military presence abroad. Even then, Democrats had already concluded that military methods are not as effective and that democracy must be spread not through interventions, occupations, and nation-building, but through soft power.
However, the 44th president was not very successful: in 2011, the U.S. airstrikes on Libyan government troops. Obama later admitted that the decision was certainly the right one, but that Washington had not prepared for the consequences. Libya plunged into chaos – Obama called it the worst mistake of his presidency.
The current administration will continue its attempts and will use all means except direct military intervention, believes Dmitry Suslov, deputy director of the Center for Complex European and International Studies at the National Research University Higher School of Economics. “They will emphasize the policy of foreign aid and NGOs, they will be much more active in supporting the ‘orange revolutions,'” he says, recalling that in Syria with the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the US did not fight directly, but helped the opposition forces. – That remains a permissible instrument.”
Washington now favors opposition representatives in Russia, Belarus, and Venezuela. Earlier, the United States imposed sanctions against some Russian officials because of the Alexei Navalny case. Restrictive measures against the Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko were discussed by Svetlana Tihanovskaya with the U.S. ambassador. The day before, Blinken had called Juan Gaido, the opposition leader of Venezuela. In China and Iran, the U.S. is helping pro-Western NGOs and dissidents.
The specific actions depend on the country, Suslov notes. Somewhere it is supporting one of the sides in a civil war, somewhere it is provoking a political crisis.
Information policy, propaganda, public diplomacy. Sanctions are also an important tool for spreading democracy: they hit the elites from whom they want to get rid of. But there will be no new Iraq and Libya.
Deputy Director of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies of the National Research University Higher School of Economics
History shows that it is problematic to implant democracy only by personal example – it is much more difficult than an allocation of money for foreign projects. So, the financial support of friendly forces will probably become the main tool of the State Department.